A report released by the Dutch think-tank, the Transnational Institute, expressed concern at the prospect of massive development projects in conflict-ridden parts of Burma. As Burma is emerges from decades of military rule, it is attracting foreign investors – especially in the resource sector.

While regional investment could foster economic growth and improve livelihoods, the TNI says that Burma lacks the institutional and governance capacity to manage this windfall. “These large scale investment projects focus on the borderlands, where most of the natural resources in Burma are found,” the report warned, “These areas are home to poor and often marginalised ethnic minority groups, and have been at the centre of more than 60 years of civil war in Burma. Foreign investment in these resource-rich yet conflict-ridden ethnic borderlands is likely to be as important as domestic politics in shaping Burma’s future.”

The foreign-funded mega projects have not benefited local communities, TNI says. “Land-grabbing has increased, and the recent economic laws and new urban wealth have not brought about tangible improvements for the poor.

Transnational Institute reports warns that if safeguards are not in place to monitor this influx of money, the development of Asia’s final frontier will only “deepen disparity between the region’s most neglected peoples and the new military, business and political elites whose wealth is rapidly increasing.”

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Transnational Institute